World

Casualties were mounting rapidly in Iraq as US and other coalition forces fought with both Sunni and Shiite Muslim resisters almost a year to the day since the fall of Baghdad. At least 30 Americans and more than 150 Iraqis - and, according to military sources, Syrian mercenaries - were reported killed in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi combined. But that number was expected to rise significantly because of a rocket that exploded on the grounds of a mosque in Fallujah. Witnesses put the number of deaths from that strike at between 25 and 40.

In other developments involving Muslim militancy:

• Mounir El Motassadeq, the only suspect convicted anywhere in the world for a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was freed by a court in Hamburg, Germany. He had been serving a 15-year sentence for providing logistical help to the attackers, but a retrial was ordered on technical grounds.

• Although its 443 troops in Iraq perform only medical and engineering duties, Thailand was warned it may be next in line for a terrorist attack because of its alliance with the US. The threat came in a letter to the Thai Embassy in Sweden. The letter was being analyzed by law-enforcement authorities.

• At least five motorcycles have been rigged with bombs for use in next week's New Year holiday in southern Thailand, police warned. They said people should expect public places, such as hotels and stores, to be targeted. Sixty-four people have died in the region since Muslim violence erupted in January.

Organizers in Hong Kong promised a mass march on Chinese government offices Sunday "because there is no other way" to express public anger at the ruling earlier this week that voters may choose their own representatives only with Beijing's permission. Investors watched anxiously for signs that the decision would affect stock prices, but it appeared to be having little or no immediate impact. Hong Kong residents were promised a high degree of autonomy when the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

A memorial flame that will burn for 100 days - the span of the 1994 genocide - was lit in Rwanda's capital to mark its 10th anniversary. As other African heads of state looked on, emotional ceremonies of remembrance also included three minutes of silence, the reburying of hundreds of people whose remains were recovered from mass graves, and scathing criticism of the "detestable indifference of the international community" for failing to intervene to stop the killing of as many as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

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